One Florida woman decided to get married in the name of preservation... to a tree.
Specifically, Karen Cooper swapped vows with a giant ficus that’s shaded Snell Family Park in Fort Myers for more than a century.
Last year, city officials began discussing cutting the tree down. Cooper, who lives nearby, began mobilizing to save it.
The News-Press reports that her effort resulted in waterfront nuptials Saturday, complete with flowers, music, a tree-decorated wedding cake and a canine ring-bearer.
After a site visit last December, the city’s public works department OK’d the tree’s removal after the beautification board had been notified. In February, the board discussed spending $13,000 to cut down the sprawling tree and replacing it with smaller geiger trees.
Once neighbors got wind of those plans, the protests started:
- Phone calls
- Cooper’s wedding
- During which she and several other women vowed to honor and protect it
Cooper got the idea from a group of women who’ve been protesting deforestation in Mexico by marrying trees, she said. “So I saw that and I thought, ’Oh we should marry the ficus tree — kind of giggle, giggle — but everyone said it’s a really good idea, so I said, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ ”
She staged the wedding three days ahead of Tuesday’s Beautification Advisory Board meeting, when the tree’s fate is on the agenda. To be discussed: last month’s report by certified arborist Rick Joyce, who gave the tree a thorough check-up. He determined it’s in fairly robust health and could withstand judicious pruning.
But even though the city appears to be backing away from its initial plans to cut down the ficus, its fate remains uncertain, Cooper points out.
Ward 5 Councilman Fred Burson, the only city official to attend the ceremony, vowed to help save the tree, in front of which he’d posed with his family for a campaign photo. “If we don’t get it settled at the Beautification Board meeting, I’ll take it to the City Council,” he said.
Cooper and her tree guardians will be there, cheering him on.